At Groots, we are on the verge of something unique: demonstrating the viability of vertical farming with our own technology and with a product that is better for the planet and for those who consume it. After 4 years dedicated to technological R&D, product development, mistakes and some successes, we have decided to share our progress with two objectives:
One is to promote this alternative way of growing. We have analyzed the techniques and processes of the entire value chain of vertical farming, and verified by way of an LCA analysis that we are more sustainable (especially if combined with renewable energies) than traditional production methods. We would like to make more people aware of the industry and promote its implementation. The other is for everyone to get to know us better. We want the foundation on which we build relationships with our customers and partners to be the understanding of our approach.
How do we innovate at Groots?
Our growing space
At Groots we are already operating the largest vertical growing space in Spain, located on the outskirts of Barcelona with an area of 2500 m2.
We introduce you the first growing room of our new space, which will have a total capacity of more than 400,000 plants and more than 4.9 million plants harvested per year. In this first room with a capacity of 130,000 plants we improve the 3 fundamental techniques of Groots. Our crops are:
Hidroponic: A cultivation system that saves 95% of water compared to traditional methods. We incorporate a double recirculation system, which considerably increases savings.
Vertical: We maximize productivity per m³ and improve the efficiency of the system; with the same resources we grow more plants. In the new installations we increased the height of the towers to 4m.
Controlled environment: We record and control all environmental, fertigation and lighting parameters in an automated way. In this way we naturally enhance the productivity, aroma, active ingredients or nutritional value of our plants (news on this soon!). Everything that affects every plant grown at Groots is recorded, making our facility a crop improvement space with a sample size of over 400,000 plants.
In addition, we have automated all growing tasks; planting, transplanting, harvesting and cleaning of the growing structures.
Our product development strategy goes beyond vertical farming. Our ideas are shared with other companies that want to make food production more sustainable. Therefore, taking advantage of the strength of our brand, we have opened the doors to the development of processed products with ingredients produced by other companies that share our ideas. In the last year we have launched 4 formats and 25 new references, and this is just the beginning, we do not intend to stop expanding our range.
Our Caesar, Poke and Pasta & Tuna salads are ready to eat vegan salads, with vegetable protein, produced in collaboration with producers aligned with us. Our products are more sustainable, tastier, fresher, more nutritious and can be found in supermarkets at the same price as those of any other producer.
Point of sale
Large supermarket chains are notorious for how difficult it is to access them, and this notoriety is justified because they must demand the highest standards of quality, production capacity and price competitiveness to satisfy their customers.
At Groots we have been able to gain access thanks to the installation of our "Groots Hub" systems at the point of sale, which are a real small-scale representation of everything behind our crops.
You will find our products at regional level (Catalonia) in supermarkets Bonpreu, Carrefour, Alcampo, Veritas, Sorli (more information on the web).
Until we finish the construction of the remaining cultivation rooms, we will not have enough production to supply more establishments. In the coming months we will significantly increase our production capacity, so we will be in more and more establishments and chains.
In general terms, our financing strategy has been one of "bootstrapping", which is what investors call making a lot of progress with few resources, based on the basic and fundamental principles of an industry. This strategy contrasts with that of other international "Vertical Farming" companies, which have chosen to grow and occupy the market fueled by large investment rounds without having a profitable and scalable production system. This route is common in software companies, but in the case of vertical farming, growth is linked to high investment costs to build farms and additional operating costs to make them produce.
We believe that our choice to pursue organic growth will make us a more solid company in the long term and will allow us to be competitive in the selling price of our products, which at the moment of truth can be key in case of more difficult economic contexts. To get to the point where we are, we have had funding from the State through loans and grants, and the invaluable help of our investors and advisors, who accompany us in the process from the "seed" phase.
From Groots we want to convey that vertical farming is already a reality. A reality whose potential is still enormous, and in which there is still much to advance and research in terms of technology and product development.